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Review by
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Welcome to Game of the Week! Each week there will be a new featured game on this page. The game may be good, average or diabolically bad, it really doesn't matter! Just look at the pics, read the text and enjoy the nostalgia! :-) Game of the Week! is open to contributions so if you would like to contribute a game article for this page you're more than welcome to! Every article we receive will be considered!
Archon II - Adept
1984 Electronic Arts
Programmed by Anne Westfall, Jon Freeman & Paul Reiche III
 
Most text of the present article comes from the review published in the fourteenth issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64 (street date: May 8th, 1986).
 

ARCHON II: ADEPT
Ariolasoft (Electronic Arts), 9.95 cass, 12.95 disk, joystick only


Times have changed since the Master of Order battled with the Mistress of Chaos in the days of Archon. The old wellsprings of magic are now failing and a new breed of wizard, the Adept, has emerged. Controlling previously unsummoned armies of demons and elementals, they have forced the age-old war to take a new turn. The battlefield of the new age is displayed on the screen as a diagrammatic representation of the four elements, earth, water, air and fire. Each one is shown as a different coloured band surrounding the latter. Just to complicate matters, midway along each of the horizontal bands representing air are two black areas. These are voids. Their importance to the game becomes relevant later. Six power points move across corners of the board during play. Controlling these is imperative because they supply the energy necessary for the adepts to use magic and fight, the only means by which one can win the game.

Each side has a citadel in their half of the Earth section. This remains vacant throughout the game, except when one side or another casts the Apocalypse spell (the consequences of which ore dealt with below). At key points across the board, highlighted magical strong points exist. These must be controlled to ensure a constant supply of magical energy. The four adepts each side possesses are identical in appearance, but each one is particularly suited to one or another of the elements. They may magically transport themselves anywhere across the board, but operate best in their own areas.

The Archon arms race -- Chaos and Order
prepare for battle.

Each adept can also draw on an arsenal of spells. These are Summon (which calls upon one of a selection of creatures that may be placed anywhere within the summoner's elemental territory); Heal which brings any wounded adept or creature up to full strength; Weaken which dons the opposite but only works on creatures; Imprison which incapacitates any creature; Release sets the imprisoned character free (continual imprisonment of a character causes a constant drain on energy, so setting a prisoner free is necessary at some point). Banish may be used to eliminate any summoned creature. Finally there's the Apocalypse spell. This sets the showdown for the two sides by pitting one adept against the other inside a citadel. In the main, this is used to finish off a depleted army or as a desperate last stand.

The monsters vary for each of the two forces. Both sides can summon demons. The juggernaut is a demonic missile, invulnerable to everything except the song of the siren (one of the creatures of chaos). The wraith feeds on the life force of its opponents and remains invisible for most of the time. The Gorgon kills its victims by increasing degrees of paralysis, whilst the deadly chimera breathes fire, snorts poison gas and stings like a scorpion.

A skirmish in the elemental plane of fire. And
chaos seems to be doing very well thankyou!

Creatures of chaos are the behemoth who whilst being slow, has a punch like Julian Rignall's (see ZZAP! 13's cover); the siren, who's haunting voice whittles away her opponent's life force (a la Tina Turner); the ifrit -- a portable whirlwind and a firebird whose weapons and armour consist of a sphere of flame. The creatures available to the adepts of order are the giant, a Liddonesque rock thrower; the kraken, a gigantic octopus; the thunderbird, an airborne missile launcher, and the fireball-firing salamander.

Most of the game is played on the strategic board, where adepts and monsters are manipulated to control most of the vantage points. Summoned monsters must stay in the territory they were summoned from or move into the adjacent square in the next element. They are always stronger in their own squares, however. They may move as far as they like until they encounter an enemy. When this happens, the contested square expands to the full sire of the screen, complete with suitable terrain. The opposing icons are then plunged into combat, each taking advantage of its particular weaponry. At the sides of the screen each icon's life force is displayed as a bar which decreases as wounds are inflicted. After either icon uses its weapon, there is a pause whilst power is generated to use the weapon again. The end of this interval is indicated by a bell tone -- low tone for chaos and high tone for order. The battle continues until one of the creatures has been eliminated.

There are, as you might expect, complications. The two void squares are the only places where magic energy supplies always exist, but magic does not actually work in them so they are difficult to control. Spells have maximum and minimum strengths and the amount of energy required to cast them is shown during the spell selection process. The power with which a spell is cast affects the outcome as a result of this.

The game also has its problems. It is best played as a two-player game. There are no skill levels and the computer is such a good player, an awful lot of practice is required before a victory may be gained against it. Then there's the question of the apocalypse spell. No matter how well the game is going for you, if the other side uses this spell the outcome of the whole game depends on which player is better with a joystick over the next few seconds. The game can end too abruptly without rewarding good strategy. In a two-player game, I suggest you reach an agreement with your opponent not to use this spell during play.


However the latter point also brings me to my main criticism of the game as a strategy, and my reluctance to review it in this column. Ultimately the outcome depends on the joystick proficiency of the player. An opponent may be banished by magic if a direct encounter is undesirable, but the cost in magic is too high to allow this form of defence to be used frequently. Worst still, it does not affect adepts and they are always the must powerful of adversaries. The game is significantly more complex than Archon I but I feel that it is not an improvement. It is a demanding game which works best as a two-player contest. With two joystick junkies hammering away, no doubt a great deal of fun could be had. Unfortunately though, the game is still flawed.

   


Presentation 83%

Good packaging and manual coupled with useful game options and layout.

Graphics 72%
Animated icons and a few pretty finishing touches.

Instructions 80%
A well documented and easily accessible game.

Authenticity N/A
There's no precedent for rating this feature.

Playability 68%
Unless two compatible players get to grips with the game, you're going to find the war both short and unsatisfactory.

Value For Money 79%
Not unreasonable for the type of game.

Overall 78%
Though flawed and somewhat contrived, it could prove to be an interesting alternative (but not an addition) to the original.
.

 
 

 

Htmlized by Dimitris Kiminas (7 Sep 2004)

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